President Obama welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House Tuesday, as the allies touted their relationship as essential to global prosperity despite economic vulnerabilities in their respective countries.
"People on both sides of the Atlantic are understandably frustrated with the ups and downs of the economy," Obama said, appearing with Merkel at a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House. He added, however, that it's "important to note how close we came to a complete disaster" and that "recovery from a body blow" takes time.
Merkel, like Obama, has been forced to defend her use of bailouts — the German people have questioned Merkel's substantial assistance to Greece — amid mounting financial crises.
"Now we have a situation we believe meets the challenges of the future," Merkel said. "We're all breaking new ground. These are uncharted waters."
The visit allows Obama to put his finger on the pulse of German interests while ensuring the allies remain on the same page amid economic turmoil in Europe and political upheavals throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
In addition to the global economic market and Arab Spring, the leaders discussed peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine and the possibility of additional sanctions against Iran.
Obama Tuesday night will award Merkel the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a formal dinner, saying the ceremony underscores the chancellor's accomplishments and the U.S. commitment to one of its major European allies.